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Student perspectives Figure 3. Students’ postgraduate plans. Fourth, about 40 percent of undergraduates surveyed intend to continue their education in graduate school. Undergraduate education and career anticipations appear to be considerable drivers for graduate education. Fifty-five percent of graduate students considered their alma mater for graduate school, and a large majority (86 percent) went to graduate school to prepare for intended careers. In addition, less than 40 percent of graduate respondents were involved in Material Advantage or Keramos as an undergraduate. Colleges can clearly do more to foster extracurricular activity in the materials fields. Fifth, roughly a quarter of respondents plan to remain involved in academia after graduation (Figure 3). Presuming many of these are graduate students, a very large percentage of undergraduate students intend to work in private industry after graduation. Less than five percent of total respondents Credit: L. Hu intend to either continue education or seek a job in a different field. These numbers are reassuring, indicating that the materials programs have a very high career retention rate. Although 200 responses is a usable number, there are many more students in these fields. Our numbers are likely biased toward the most active and involved students, because this was not a random survey. However, our analyses bear weight. Students have a positive outlook on their field and the job market, and many hold internships or co-ops before graduation. There is strong interest in pursuing careers in private industry, but more than a quarter of respondents were interested in remaining in academia. Many students were comfortable using numerous scientific instruments and a strong majority had written research papers. These are all encouraging responses. On the other hand, less than a quarter of respondents felt they had a strong knowledge of ceramics. Coming from a body of students with interest in the ceramic field, this number is alarming. Education in a field that most of our respondents believe is rising in importance is clearly underprioritized. Although current curricula appear to be doing many things well, there remain areas that require development. Recommended actions • Expand focused education in ceramics, especially for undergraduates. • Develop more extracurricular activities in the materials fields. Acknowledgements The authors thank Geoff Brennecka and Tricia Freshour for valuable discussions. About the authors Liangfa Hu is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering at Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), president of the Material Advantage chapter at Texas A&M, and chair of the 2013 PCSA Communications Committee. Bradley Richards is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.), a NASA Pathways intern at the Glenn Research Center, president of the Materials Science Graduate Student Board at Virginia, and chair of the 2014 PCSA Communications Committee. n www.ceramics.org/ema2015 call for papers SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACTS BY SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 ELECTRONIC MATERIALS AND APPLICATIONS 2015 January 21-23 | DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at Sea World® | Orlando, Florida USA 34 www.ceramics.org | American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 93, No. 5


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